Beckum requested move to TE

In search of playing time, freshman expected to make switch Friday during UW's first bowl practice

Following the University of Wisconsin football team's 20-10 home loss to Iowa Nov. 12, true freshman Travis Beckum approached tight ends coach Paul Chryst with a request: Let me play tight end.

According to Joe Koch, who coached Beckum at Oak Creek High School, Beckum asked Chryst if he could convert to the offensive side of the ball after beginning his Badger career at strongside linebacker and moving to defensive end during the season.

The request came soon after Beckum and the rest of the Badgers' defensive linemen learned that defensive line coach John Palermo was retiring at season's end.

After leaving the locker room, Beckum and fellow Oak Creek alum Brian Calhoun met up with Koch in the McClain Center, where Beckum told Koch about Palermo's retirement and his request to play tight end.

"He said he really liked Palermo," Koch said. "… I said, ‘Well, this is going to be kind of weird, are they going to keep you at D line or are you going back to outside linebacker?'

"He goes, ‘I just got done talking to Coach Chryst'…

"He went to ask Coach Chryst if he could switch to tight end for next year. And Chryst said, ‘Oh, I'd love to have you, but that's not my decision.'"

So Beckum went to talk to defensive coordinator and future head coach Bret Bielema.

"Right after the Iowa game he went and approached (Bielema) and said, ‘I'd like to move to tight end,'" Koch said. "He said he didn't get really an answer then. I can only imagine after a game, who wants to talk about that stuff?"

Beckum may not have received an immediate response to his request, but it appears he will be given the chance to play tight end, beginning when the Badgers return to practice Friday, in preparation for facing Auburn in the Capital One Bowl.

"He likes defense," Koch said. "I'm really surprised. I didn't want to get into the whole thing because coming after a game like that you don't know how kids are….

"So I didn't know if he was really going to stick by his guns with that but I guess he obviously did. He must have kept bugging them and maybe they sat back and said it's not a bad idea."

Beckum was an All-American linebacker and was's No. 1 ranked defensive end prospect in the nation for the class of 2005. He opened his UW career at the strongside "sam" linebacker position, but struggled through his first fall camp. He earned a spot on the goal-line defense at linebacker about the same time he was switched to defensive end, in late September.

"He kind of saw himself being bounced around a little bit...," Koch said. "He just wants to get himself settled somewhere where they want him or are going to use him or whatever. He wants to contribute, basically."

Beckum, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, was the consensus Wisconsin state player of the year last season, starring primarily at outside linebacker and tight end, though he played several positions for the Knights.

"I think he's a little bit, I don't know what's the word, but kind of bummed, you know, about kind of not getting much time," Koch said.

Beckum, Koch said, probably figured he had a better chance to play regularly next season at tight end. That would be an understandable calculation. UW's top three tight ends are seniors. The rest of the roster at that position is filled with youth, promise and inexperience. On the other hand, the Badgers return all of their defensive linemen next season.

As a senior at Oak Creek, Beckum, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, caught 22 passes for 506 yards.

"It will be interesting to see," Koch said. "I don't know how he will be on offense. He's got talent. He's got great hands. He's fast and he's tall. He'd be really good, but coming from our school… I guess there's two sides to it. We're not a throwing team so obviously he's not going to be very experienced, but the other side is he doesn't have any bad habits or different habits, he's definitely a clean slate. So you can draw up anything you want for him and it's going to be all new…

"He wants to contribute. He wants to get on the field and play. That's for sure. The main reason he went to Wisconsin was they told him that he would play right away. He's not the kind of guy who's very good at sitting around. He's just kind of too hyper for that… He wants to get out there and play.

"I'm sure that's what it came down to."

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